Temple and the Temple Association of University Professionals are continuing discussions to negotiate a new four-year contract following the expiration of the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement on Oct. 15. The two parties have not met since Dec. 14, with four scheduled dates from Wednesday through the end of February.
At their most recent meeting, TAUP, which represents full and part-time faculty members, academic professionals and librarians from 13 of Temple’s colleges, put forth various new proposals and counter-proposals and urged Temple negotiators for updates on information they had previously requested.
The union’s proposals focused on No Strike/No Lockout provisions, data management, student feedback forms, tenure promotion and issues surrounding librarian discipline and benefits. Collective Bargaining Agreements often include clauses like “no strike” and “no lockout” to avoid disruptions in work activities throughout the agreement’s duration.
“Dec. 14’s bargaining session was very short,” said TAUP President Jeffrey Doshna. “Temple’s negotiations team made no responses, nor did they present any counter proposals.”
The lack of engagement from Temple’s party was attributed to the absence of their outside counsel and lead negotiator, Shannon Farmer, due to illness, Doshna said.
“Since bargaining started, there have been 12 negotiation sessions,” Doshna said. “In that time, hundreds of proposals from TAUP have crossed the table, with many being ignored, dismissed or deferred. Significant and necessary changes to the contract impacting faculty, academic professionals and librarians are still a long way off.”
TAUP has been pushing for altering sick leave policy, raising adjunct pay and ensuring that more than 70 percent of faculty who work on a contingent basis have greater job security, Doshna said.
Substantial progress has been made in negotiations concerning other proposals. The two parties have reached a consensus on revising gendered language in the contract to non-gendered, alongside advancements in addressing issues related to the tenure process, access to specific benefits and various administrative matters, Doshna said.
Sharon Boyle, vice president of human resources, has negotiated numerous contracts with Temple’s unions during her 25-year tenure with the university. Compared to other negotiation processes, this one has been slower than normal, she said.
“I think we’re always making some bit of progress as long as we are talking and trying to understand each other’s issues better,“ Boyle said. “As long as we’re continuing to meet, and we’re continuing to move all the items forward, that’s progress.”
Doshna believes a sense of urgency from Temple is necessary for the sake of university professionals and students.
Fifty-five percent of faculty currently teaching classes aren’t sure if they will have a job next year, according to data Temple provides TAUP as enforced by the parties’ Collective Bargaining Agreement. Temple’s administration has cut 41 percent of the tenure-track lines since 2017.
“Having trouble getting an appointment with an academic advisor? The number of academic professionals has declined by nearly 35 percent since 2019,” Doshna said. “Temple’s central administration’s mismanagement of the university’s educational mission and resources has been negatively affecting students for years. Our fight for a fair contract is central to reducing these impacts on students. Your learning and research conditions are our working conditions.”
Alyssa Pyles, a junior criminal justice major, is not familiar with TAUP but believes students should be more aware of labor battles on campus, especially given the university’s history with the Temple University Graduate Students’ Association.
“As a student who is really here on scholarships, it would be very unfortunate to hear of a tuition increase or anything,” Pyles said. “But on the same note, although I’m not sure what professors make right now, I think that the least Temple could do is give their workers better benefits. It would help students in the end.”
Tuition is a large percentage of the university’s revenue and ability to provide services. During this time, Temple plans to provide fair and equitable increases in benefits for their employees while aiming to remain affordable and accessible to students, Boyle said.
The university’s operating budget can often play a key role in agreeing to new union contracts.
“Enrollment is down, so obviously, our tuition revenue is down,” Boyle said. “We haven’t really gotten to the meat of negotiations yet, which is pay and benefits. Once we get closer to that, we’ll balance the need to provide fair increases against our ability to do so, which is the operating budget.”
The parties’ next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 31, but neither side has suggested when or how negotiations will settle. TAUP has welcomed staff and students to attend bargaining and watch interactions between Temple’s negotiators and the union firsthand.
Doshna believes Temple’s administration needs to be thoughtful of the gravity of their decision as they continue to work towards a fair resolution.
“Are we as a university going to continue manufacturing crises to justify budget cuts and layoffs, continue to rely heavily on contingent labor to deliver your education, and do so while increasing tuition anyways?” Doshna said. “Temple has the money and, more importantly, the capacity to promise a brighter future to its faculty and staff so that students can rely on those people to lead them.”